For centuries, lovebirds have toured Venice's picturesque canals on gondola rides. And since 2006, couples have headed out onto the calm waters of Huntington Harbor aboard the same iconic Venetian boats, courtesy of Sunset Gondolas. To recreate the Italian experience as thoroughly as possible, the company's fleet is made up entirely of gondolas imported from Italy?and is the only company in Southern California with that distinction. Moreover, their gondoliers sport traditional striped shirt, and serenade passengers upon request. What's more, they're experts at their craft. Two of the boatswains have won the US Gondola Nationals for their skill in the authentic, 37-foot boats?Bepi, who won in 2012, and Stefano, who won in 2013.
Despite their prowess, however, the gondoliers often blend into the background during rides, letting the California scenery take center stage. From their seats, couples or convivial groups drink in views of the area's Venetian-style islands, canals, and bridges, all while snacking on picnic spreads and wine they brought along, or the chocolate-dipped strawberries provided in some packages. The gondoliers can tailor the rides to special occasions, too, including proposals and wedding ceremonies.
The personal trainers at Evolve Gym spend less time roaming a huge gym facility and more time helping members achieve their fitness goals. That's because Evolve isn't a sprawling treadmill bank, but instead a private personal-training gym where trainers work one-on-one with members. Though modern exercise machines and free weights fill each room, the trainers, not the equipment, direct every workout session while following each member's custom workout plan. To help members reach their health and physical goals, staff nutrition counselors concoct personalized meal plans, fitness instructors lead group yoga and cardio classes, and airbrush-tan artists bestow bods with beach glows that mimic the results of hours spent laying on a beach or several minutes spent bear-hugging the sun.
Whether they're working with an MMA fighter or a grandmother, the coaches at Achieve Fitness strive to get every client in the best shape of their lives. A personalized roadmap determines their unique fitness and nutrition program, which may include semi-private coaching or group classes. In either environment, upbeat staff keep up a supportive and high-energy atmosphere, leading workouts with functional movements from deadlifting weights to scaling climbing walls. Achieve Fitness' staff also help jumpstart metabolisms through one-on-one nutritional consulting or a fat-flushing meal plan tailored to the client's body type.
Enthusiastic instructors at OEX Sunset Beach invite beginning and experienced adventurers into the cerulean waters of the Pacific Ocean. The outpost is an offshoot of the original OEX center in La Jolla, which began as a kayaking and freediving center but has since branched out to include standup paddleboarding and poker tournaments with local sea bass. Staff members happily help guests get fitted with the perfect-size gear and lend basic safety tips before their expeditions over and under the blue bay waters.
At Huntington Beach?s Bolsa Chica State Beach, swells are roughly 40% smaller than the towering waves of the rest of Southern California. Its gentle surf makes it an ideal spot for Corky Caroll?s Surf School, whose team teaches novices to surf through a mix of instruction, hands-on practice, and catnaps in the sand. For an extra dose of adventure, surfers can jet to an entirely different country. At the school?s weeklong surf camp in Nosara, Costa Rica, students master the basics in tropical, 80-degree waters.
Using a wide range of fitness strategies, Thomas Tadlock knows how to achieve desired results. During his Express Results boot camp, participants burn calories while bouncing from spring-loaded floors, vaults, and trampolines. They also tame balance beams and utilize other gymnastics equipment over the course of the one-hour, high-energy sessions. To assist those that can’t attend his classes, he offers Skype training programs and DVD courses, as well as an MP3 coaching system.